Australians Poll Most Supportive of Marriage Equality, Despite Nationwide Ban

Seven in 10 Australians now support same-sex marriage, despite the fact that such unions are illegal in the country.

BY Thom Senzee

July 15 2014 5:53 PM ET

Australian senator David Leyonhjelm

A new poll shows that support for marriage equality among Australians has jumped seven points in less than a year to an even larger majority of 72 percent, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

That makes Australian the most overwhelmingly supportive of marriage equality of any nation, despite the fact that same-sex couples cannot wed on the continent, according to the poll.

"With Australians across all key demographics supporting marriage equality in record numbers, it's fair to say the public has made up its mind, the community debate has been won, and it's time for politicians to act," Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome told the Herald.

The poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, comes on the heels of Sunday's coming-out announcement by Ian Thorpe, a man the Herald referred to as "Australia's greatest Olympian."

According to the poll, seven in 10 Australians across a wide range of ages and social demographics want politicians to take action to make same-sex marriage legal Down Under.

But a lesbian senator representing the Labor Party says there is much work ahead to make marriage equality a reality in Australia, after the country's high court overturned a territorial marriage equality law late last year, invalidating at least six same-sex marriages that took place in Australia's Capital Territory.

"We don't want this to fail again," Penny Wong told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "We want a debate which has the capacity of a bill passing, and marriage equality being achieved."

Recently, Australia's conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, said he saw no problem with Australian same-sex couples being married at British Consulate offices within his country, even though those couples become legal strangers when they step out of the consulate and back onto Australian soil. 

Meanwhile, the head of a libertarian-leaning Australian party says the high level of public support for marriage equality may not equate to "acceptance" of gay people or same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, he says, it's time for politicians to allow same-sex unions.

"You don't have to approve of gays and gay marriage to believe that the government should leave you alone," Sen. David Leyonhjelm, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, told the Morning Herald

Leyonhjelm said most conservative Australians, many of whom identify with his party, are ready for "tolerance" of gay and lesbian citizens' right to marriage — though they may not accept it.

Watch him describe the fast-moving evolution of the Australian public:

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